On Tuesday, the Alabama Department of Public Health published its updated coronavirus toolkit for schools.
The new guidelines only require quarantines for healthy students and faculty if they're exposed to someone who recently lost their sense of taste or smell. Previously, they would be sent home for close contact with anyone with a new cough, difficulty breathing or loss of taste.
The new protocol went into effect on Tuesday, but the Madison County School District started it on Monday.
The district's lead nurse, Donna Stiles, told WAAY 31 the updated toolkit makes it easier for schools to keep classes in-person because it's easier for nurses to determine whether students were exposed to coronavirus, or something else like allergies or a common cold.
“We want to keep kids at school so that is going to impact us in a positive way because we have very clear, specific guidelines and they’re limited to those two situations," said Stiles.
As of Tuesday, students, staff and faculty will only have to quarantine if they were in close contact of an individual who tested positive for the coronavirus or an individual who recently lost their taste or smell.
“Dr. Landers has been very specific that that is a symptom of COVID-19 and not flu, not other illnesses," said Stiles. "So, we can pretty much confirm that’s going to be COVID if they have a loss of taste or smell.”
Individuals experiencing the major symptoms of a new cough, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell will still be placed in quarantine, but their close contacts can continue going to class.
Stiles said she's glad the state made these changes and thinks it will help give students a sense of normalcy.
“We want our kids to stay in school because that’s why we’re here and we want to support the faculty and staff to meet the educational needs of the students," she said. "So, yes, if we can keep them in school and keep them learning, then goal met.”
You can find the state's updated toolkit here.